This Article Has Been Medically Approved By

Dr. George H. Sanders

Female model for liposuction. Liposuction is among the most popular plastic surgery procedures sought to remove unwanted fat and improve the appearance of particular areas of the body. A common body contouring procedure, liposuction is a safe and effective treatment that provides immediate and long-lasting results; however, swelling is the most common side effect of this procedure. Here is what you need to know about how long swelling lasts after liposuction.

How Swelling Works

Swelling is the body’s natural response to any form of trauma. It is the result of an increase of fluids and white blood cells the body sends to the affected area to improve and expedite healing. It is an expected and natural part of the healing process. 

Timeline of Liposuction Swelling

You’ll likely notice swelling begin within the first few days of surgery, peaking around the fourth day or so. This swelling will subside gradually over the next few weeks, although there may be residual swelling that lasts up to several months. The amount and extent of swelling will also depend on the extent of your treatment.

Liposuction Techniques

Dr. Sanders uses Tumescent, ultrasonic-assisted, and micro-liposuction techniques to perform liposuction. Which of these techniques he uses will depend on the amount of fat being removed, the goals of the liposuction, and the location of the procedure.

How Liposuction Causes Swelling

Liposuction involves the use of techniques that cause minor soft tissue damage in the process of removing fat cells, regardless of the type of technique used. While this is done in a safe, sterile, and controlled manner, any type of surgery will result in swelling of varying degrees.

How to Manage Swelling After Liposuction

While swelling after liposuction is an expected side effect, it may feel uncomfortable. There are some things you can do to help manage swelling to help ensure a smooth recovery.


Keep treated areas elevated as much as possible. This allows gravity to assist in returning excess fluids to the circulatory system and away from the affected area.


Ironically, keeping your body nourished with fluids helps to regulate the amount of fluids your body retains. This helps your body release excess fluids that could be contributing to the swelling.


Applying compression helps reduce inflammation and helps with the healing process. There are different types of compression garments that can be used such as socks/stockings, sleeves, vests, shorts, and more. It’s important to discuss the best options for your individual case with your surgeon.


Your surgeon may provide you with medications to help with your liposuction post-operative care and recovery. It is important to follow these instructions and take any prescribed medications as directed.

Lymphatic Massage

Lymphatic massage involves the gentle massage of specific areas of your body to move lymphatic fluid that is producing swelling to an area with working lymph vessels. These vessels then carry the excess fluid away. This can be done after surgery to lessen swelling, either at home by the patient or by a qualified therapist.

When Should I Be Concerned About Liposuction Swelling?

While severe swelling or complications are rare with liposuction, if you begin to experience swelling that increases, is accompanied by increased pain, or you begin to experience fever or chills, you should reach out to your surgeon immediately.

Swelling After Liposuction

Overall, swelling is an expected and natural part of the healing process after liposuction. It is important to be patient and allow time for the swelling to subside on its own. 

Remember to follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions carefully, including wearing compression garments and taking any prescribed medications. Be sure to keep your body hydrated and elevated to help reduce swelling, and avoid any strenuous activities or heavy lifting during the recovery period.

While swelling after liposuction can be uncomfortable and may last for several weeks or even months, it is a normal part of the healing process. By taking proper care of yourself and following your surgeon’s instructions, you can help ensure a smooth recovery and achieve the best possible results from your liposuction procedure.

If you are considering liposuction, reach out to Dr. Sanders for a consultation to find out what you can expect when receiving this very popular procedure to remove unwanted fat and help you feel more confident.